Developer: Naughty Dog, Price: 79.99 CAD, Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
What makes an ending? I can tell you that Uncharted 4 has a beginning middle and end, references past entries in the series with characters and events and even reflects on other aspects of Naughty Dog’s history. But I don’t think of the whole series beginning to end as one story. Harkening back to the old pulp and adventure serials the Uncharted series it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the character of Drake to change much and the series weakness is trying to maintain a certain freshness when the formula and characters don’t have much place to go. I can’t say that I was disappointed with Uncharted 4, its graphics, voice acting and attention to characters has always hit its mark and it does here it just doesn’t do anything particularly new with the series.
When Fortune Hunter Nathan Drake’s estranged brother Sam shows up out of prison on a bad debt to find ‘Libertalia’, the pirate utopia they dreamt about finding as kids the brothers Drake set out on a last grand adventure. The younger and player controlled Drake has settled down into a normal domesticated life with Elena Fisher working as a salvage diver and is somewhat reluctant to return to his adventure days. He nonetheless agrees and the usual running, jumping, puzzling, climbing and gunplay ensues, though to nothing of the end quite like the preposterously epic setpieces of Uncharted 3, the pacing of Uncharted 2, or the freshness of Uncharted 1. Instead The Last of Us directors Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley bringing over the dimness and voice actor Troy Baker from their last game and incorporate the island focus of Drake’s Fortune, the graphical vibrancy of Among Thieves, and the weight of character history from Drake’s Deception. It’s the most polished mixed back you’re likely to see in gaming.
The multiplayer plays the same, and with the addition of the grappling hook and exponentially more expansive levels (somewhat needless, but nonetheless appreciative) this one largely plays like the last Uncharted in a greater more expensive fashion. It’s an arguably greater game than Xbox’s Rise of the Tomb Raider in story and scope, only falling short on shooting which has always been besides the point. A Thief’s End paints a beautiful picture with a new colour pallet in the same broad strokes you’ve seen before and may come across as a disappointment to those looking for something new in the series or a follow-up to The Last of Us, but that’s arguably because Naughty Dog has gotten it so right, so many times before there’s not much more room at the top.
Review: 7.5/ 10, Series Ranking: 2, 1, 3, 4
Spoiled Territory: Link to entire playthrough available right here.
For those who don`t mind being spoiled by the end of the game being talked about.
Uncharted 4 is predictable. To the point where the characters actions become contrived. Why would Drake hide that he was going on an adventure again from Elena when she pushes him to reconnect with Sully. Why do we battle Rafe and his goons when we escaped prison together and it turns out him and Sam were on the same side? Why is Nate so suddenly reluctant again to get the treasure when he’s been through these paces so many times before. It’s almost in every Uncharted game Nate likes to have a moment of giving up, only to naturally arrive at the same conclusion had he continued to look for the treasure anyways. This kind of repetition really drags the game down. Maybe with the next game and a new hero we might be able to see something truly Uncharted.